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How Do Air Conditioners Work?

How AC Systems Keep Your Home or Business Cool

Just about everyone has an air conditioner and knows how to use it. Just set the thermostat, sit back, and let it do its thing while the place gets nice and cool. Easy enough. Unfortunately, not many people know how their air conditioner works (unless it’s their job to know). But even knowing the basic elements and principles of air conditioning can help homeowners and business owners better understand how to take care of their AC units and tell when something’s wrong. Read on to learn all about how air conditioners work.

Components of an Air Conditioner

hvac parts Most air conditioners in the U.S. are central air systems, meaning they provide cooling power from one central location and distribute it throughout the building via a network of air ducts. These systems typically involve two separate units - one indoors and one outdoors. The indoor unit contains a blower fan, an air filter, and evaporator coils. 

The outdoor unit contains a blower fan, compressor, and condenser coils. Refrigerant lines made of insulated copper tubing run between the two units. There’s an expansion valve near the indoor unit to regulate the flow of refrigerant to the evaporator coils.

How AC Units Work

Air conditioners, much like refrigerators, utilize a natural law of physics to remove heat and humidity from an environment. In essence, the law states that when a liquid changes into gas, it absorbs heat exceptionally well. Here’s how this works in the case of an AC system.

The outdoor compressor pumps liquid refrigerant between the condenser and the evaporator in a loop. When the liquid reaches the evaporator coils, it is converted to gas. The indoor fan draws in warm indoor air through the filter and blows it over the coils, which absorb its heat energy. The now-cooled air flows through the ducts and throughout the house.

The hot, gaseous refrigerant flows back outside to the condenser coils, where it releases its heat energy with the help of the outdoor fan. The cooled refrigerant is converted back to liquid form and pumped back inside to repeat the process.

Why AC Professionals Are So Important

The above description may make air conditioners seem fairly simple, but they’re definitely not. Even the individual components listed here are themselves incredibly complex parts of an extremely complicated whole. Given the interconnected nature of AC systems, each element must be functioning properly for the system to work. 

professionalsThat’s why AC technicians undergo high levels of education and training to work on these systems. They have the knowledge and skills required to properly perform maintenance on the system, accurately diagnose problems, and make necessary repairs. They can also determine whether the homeowner or business owner is better off replacing an old or ailing unit, as well as making the complex calculations that go into selecting the ideal AC system for a given home or building.

About Gresham Heating and Air Conditioning

Gresham Heating and Air Conditioning have been serving the Gresham, Oregon, community with pride since 1992. As a family-owned local business, safety, honesty, quality, and superior service are their top priorities. They offer competitive up-front pricing, financing, membership perks, and emergency service. Give them a call today for expert AC services in Gresham.